Supporting Vaccination: A Toolkit for CHWs

a digital training to expand understanding and uptake of vaccinations around the world

Community health workers (CHWs) are trusted, reliable sources of health information for millions of people worldwide. They play a vital role in promoting healthy behaviors, and have enormous potential to contribute to global vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. However, in the face of rampant misinformation and other barriers, CHWs often lack adequate support to effectively increase vaccine confidence.

We’ve created a free digital toolkit to equip CHWs with the knowledge and strategies to increase vaccine acceptance in their communities. Access the toolkit at the bottom of this webpage or through the free Digital Medic mobile app for iOS and Android.

About the Project

THE GAP
Current barriers to effective vaccine outreach for CHWs include:
• Strong feelings of mistrust around vaccines in the community
• Lack of materials to reference for educating people in the community
• Lack of training opportunities related to vaccination
• Perception of few trusted sources for reliable health information
• Lack of scientific knowledge about coronavirus, vaccines, side effects and other common concerns
• Limited time
• Personal fears about vaccination

With these challenges in mind, the Supporting Vaccination toolkit is designed to equip a global audience of CHWs with the knowledge and confidence to educate communities about the importance of vaccination, and to guide people through the vaccination process.

OUR APPROACH
Our learning framework centers the CHW experience, connecting their existing knowledge and expertise to broader social change. We worked with an advisory group of CHWs to understand their needs and ensure all materials are relevant and actionable in their day-to-day work. While the toolkit specifically mentions COVID-19, the materials are largely applicable for other immunization training needs as well.

The toolkit aims to provide learners with:
• A clear understanding of how viruses and vaccines function
• Communication methods for educating others about the benefits of vaccination and countering vaccine misinformation, with empathy at the core
• An ability to determine individuals’ vaccination readiness and to encourage concurrent prevention strategies.

DISSEMINATION
The full training is available to view and download through our website and the Digital Medic mobile app. Accessing course content through the Digital Medic mobile app is recommended in settings with limited data and internet connectivity. All videos are also available to view on YouTube. We are currently working on translating the toolkit into additional languages, including Spanish, French, Sepedi, and Xhosa.
USING THE TOOLKIT
The toolkit contains 10 animated videos, also available as audio-only files. It also includes a complementary set of static graphics, all shareable via mobile chat platforms such as WhatsApp. Health workers can access and revisit the materials in any order, at any time. A subset of the content is also appropriate for CHWs to share with their communities as teaching tools. In total, it should take about 100 minutes to review the materials.

Accessing course content through the Digital Medic mobile app for Google Play or the App Store is recommended in settings with limited data and internet connectivity. All content is freely available under the Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0) license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Videos

The Power of Your Story

This video opens the series of Inspiring Vaccine Confidence with a focus on acknowledging the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of the role and lived experience of the community health worker (CHW). The video highlights the importance of leading by example and social influences in the context of vaccination while reinforcing communication skills in engagement, building trust and storytelling.

Virus and Vaccine 101

This video provides an overview of how a virus spreads, invades the body’s cells, and results in symptoms, as well as how a vaccine works to use the body’s natural immune response to protect us from these germs. Specific attention is paid to the unique aspects of the COVID-19 virus, the mRNA vaccine, the vaccine variations and boosters that are a source of confusion.

Vaccine Side Effects and Adverse Events

This video reviews common side effects of vaccination, and the difference between these side effects and adverse events including allergic reactions. It also explains why side effects happen and how to manage symptoms when they occur.

Understanding and Responding to Special Concerns

This video describes concerns beyond common side effects that stem from little information or misinformation about vaccination. Concerns include general ineffectiveness or alteration of the DNA, concerns about fertility, impact on pregnancy or breastfeeding and impact on immunocompromised individuals. These concerns are placed in context and the science is unpacked. Community health workers reflect on communication skills that can help when listening to and educating community members about these concerns.

Addressing Beliefs and Values

This video covers specific considerations when assessing and addressing beliefs and values that intersect with vaccination. Communication skills are reinforced and discussion of acknowledging tension, respect and positive messaging that emphasizes tailored personal, social and cultural benefits of vaccination.

From Empathy to Action

This video outlines strategies for effective communication about COVID-19 vaccination and similar topics. With empathy as the lens, strategies covered include validating concerns, aligning with individual values, sharing tailored information effectively, checking understanding, and ongoing assessment of readiness.

Source and Share Trusted Information

This video offers support in identifying, accessing and sharing reliable information related to COVID-19, vaccines, and related public health topics. Strategies in identifying misinformation and determining the credibility of a source are covered, and several trusted sites are provided. The role of the CHW as a trusted source of information for the community is reinforced.

Supporting Those Who Are Ready

This video outlines how to identify people who have intent to vaccinate and strategies for increasing sense of control and agency in following through with vaccination. Key points of care coordination and monitoring are covered as well as a reflection on communication skills.

Concurrent Preventive Strategies

This video provides a reminder of the ongoing importance of strategies complementary to the vaccine in preventing spread of COVID-19. Key points include relevance after vaccination, COVID variants, asymptomatic spread, and immunocompromised individuals.

Self Care for Community Health Workers

This video focuses on acknowledgement of the stresses and experience of CHWs and the importance of self-care. Healthful coping strategies and daily self-care practices are covered, including resources for support. Video download coming soon.

Infographics

Click an image to view and download.

Content Use

Accessing course content through the Digital Medic mobile app for Google Play or the App Store is recommended in settings with limited data and internet connectivity. All content is freely available under the Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. See our guidelines around using, sharing, and adapting Digital Medic content here

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